State releases annual county unemployment data for 2018

Published 7:24 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2019


News release

FRANKFORT — Annual unemployment rates decreased in 117 Kentucky counties in 2018 compared to 2017, rose in Monroe and Owen counties and stayed the same in Metcalfe, according to the Kentucky Center for Statistics (KYSTATS), an agency within the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

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The annual jobless rate for Woodford County was the lowest in the Commonwealth in 2018 at 3.1 percent. It was followed by Campbell, Fayette, Oldham and Scott counties, 3.3 percent each; Boone and Kenton counties, 3.4 percent each; Shelby County, 3.5 percent; and Anderson, Jessamine and Spencer counties, 3.6 percent each.

Magoffin County recorded the state’s highest annual unemployment rate in 2018 at 13.2 percent. It was followed by Elliott County, 9.3 percent; Carter County, 9.2 percent; Lewis County, 8.4 percent; Wolfe County, 7.7 percent; Menifee County, 7.6 percent; Harlan County, 7.4 percent; Breathitt County, 7.3 percent; Lawrence County, 7.2 percent; and Clay, Leslie and Owsley counties, 7.1 percent each. In 2018, Magoffin County had an annual rate at or above 10 percent compared to four (Magoffin, Elliott, Leslie and Harlan) counties in 2017.

In contrast to the monthly national and state data, unemployment statistics for counties are not seasonally adjusted. The comparable, unadjusted annual state unemployment rate for the state was 4.3 percent for 2018, and 3.9 percent for the nation. For more information regarding seasonal fluctuations, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at

In 2018, 77 counties were above the comparable, unadjusted annual state unemployment of 4.3 percent for the state, while 38 were below the state unadjusted rate and five (Grant, Green, Nelson, Taylor and Trimble counties) were the same rate.

Compared to the national unadjusted 2018 annual rate of 3.9 percent, 98 Kentucky counties had higher 2018 annual rates, while 17 were lower and five (Calloway, Henry, Logan, Madison and Simpson counties) matched it.

Counties with the largest decline in annual unemployment rates from 2017 to 2018 were Magoffin and Leslie counties, -3.1 percentage points; Letcher County, -2.9 percentage points; Harlan County, -2.6 percentage points; Lee County, -2.2 percentage points; and Perry and Carlisle counties, -2 percentage points each.

The counties that recorded the largest increases in annual unemployment rates from 2017 to 2018 were Owen County, +0.5 percentage points; and Monroe County, +0.2 percentage points.

Unemployment statistics are based on estimates and are compiled to measure trends rather than actually to count people working. Civilian labor force statistics include non-military workers and unemployed Kentuckians who are actively seeking work. They do not include unemployed Kentuckians who have not looked for employment within the past four weeks. The statistics in this news release are not seasonally adjusted to allow for comparisons between United States, state and counties figures. The statistics in this news release may be revised in the future.

Learn more about Kentucky labor market information at